If London smells like urine today, one can imagine what it smelled like in 1888, when the sewer system was even less functional. What would it be like to be a prostitute in 1888 London, if we try to imagine? Dirty? Smelly? Disgusting? Full of disease and filth? Am I close, do you think?
Now imagine yourself as a john looking for a poke in 1880s London. You've been porking old, disgusting hookers with bad teeth for who knows how many years, and suddenly Heather Graham comes waltzing down the street offering to peddle herself to you. You'd have a boner the size of wagon axle and you'd be charging down the street with your pants down trying to fight off half the male population of London just for the right to lick her armpit. However, Heather's price would soon rise well beyond your hooker budget as she quickly realizes that her supply is to demand as a single grain of sand is to, oh, say the entire mass of the known universe.
This is the premise of "From Hell." Graham is Mary Kelly, one of a group of hookers who are the targets of Jack the Ripper. Inspector Aberline (Johnny Depp) discovers a whole slew of convoluted things having to do with Freemasons and certain royalty who can't keep their weenies in their britches. This leads him to Mary. And thank God for Mary that there's a man like Johnny Depp roaming around London for her to love! Never mind that he ingests laudanum like it was pea soup -- Johnny looks none the worse for wear. He climbs the social ladder and quickly discovers that the higher he climbs, the more deranged the people become. At the bottom are the hookers with their hearts of gold, and at the top is an evil aristocracy that would gladly kill any human being that doesn't possess an official title.
"From Hell" is based on a graphic novel, illustrating the depths to which Hollywood has sunk to scrape for its ideas. I guess there were no compelling story ideas to be found on the backs of matchbooks or on vagrants' stained placards? "From Hell" isn't so much a revealing look at the hookers of 19th-century London as it is a look at the creative hookers of 21st-century Hollywood.
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